The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement on Thursday that the agency is deeply concerned by continued reports about alleged pushbacks and refoulement at the land border between Greece and Turkey.
“Such allegations of informal forced return have been recorded before, and it is of vital importance that the Greek authorities investigate them thoroughly,” said UNHCR Representative in Greece Philippe Leclerc.
“If confirmed, this is extremely worrying. The right to seek and enjoy asylum is a fundamental human right.”
“UNHCR has raised this issue with the Greek authorities, calling also for preventive measures against such practices, including clear rules of process at the border, independent monitoring mechanisms, and enhanced internal control structures,” the statement read.
Journalist Murat Çapan, who had been sentenced to 22.5 years for two news stories, is among those who were recently forced by a group of masked Greek men to cross the river back to the Turkish side.
The Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR) said on June 6 that Greek police continue illegally handing over Turkish asylum seekers to Turkey, a policy that results in “lambs to the slaughter.”
In a separate statement on June 7, Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, said he is also concerned about reported collective expulsions from Greece of asylum-seeking Turkish nationals.
“I urge the Greek authorities to cease immediately the pushback operations and uphold their human rights obligation to ensure that all people reaching Greece can effectively seek and enjoy asylum,” he said.
“No doubt Greece has been under immense migratory pressure in recent years. … However, even in particularly challenging situations, states cannot resort to practices – such as collective expulsions – which are not in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights and the non-refoulement principle enshrined in the UN Refugee Convention,” he maintained. (Turkey Purge)